A Brief guide to 5G - what you need to know
Heading towards the end of 2018, we are going to see some significant changes around mobile networks with the launch of the highly anticipated 5G mobile network.
What is it?
It's the next - fifth-generation of mobile internet connectivity with anticipated faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage and more reliable connections.
It's all about allowing far more devices to access the mobile internet at the same time.
What are the advantages of 5G?
For starters movies, photos and anything you download, and upload will be done much faster. Anything that your smartphone can do now, it will do it much better.
It will allow us to use much higher quality video as well leverage new technologies much better like smart devices and the internet of things.
It will also support a much larger number of devices in a single location, so no more getting frustrated at footy matches when you’re trying to send a message and it sits there saying ‘sending’ for minutes on end because 40,000 other people are trying to do the same thing in the stadium.
It will provide a huge kick for automatous vehicles and their ability to communicate with each other as well as traffic management systems.
It will also provide the ability to develop new services and functions that we can’t imagine yet.
It also looks like it is going to be priced extremely competitively by certain telecoms providers with the normal package including unlimited data. Some reports are saying between $10-$20 per month for an all you can consume package.
Why do we need it?
The world is going mobile. Everyone has a smart phone and we're consuming more data every year, particularly as the popularity of video and music streaming increases. Existing 3G and 4G services are becoming congested, leading to breakdowns in service. 5G is much better at handling thousands of devices simultaneously, from mobiles to equipment sensors, video cameras to smart street lights.
Smart devices and the internet of things need mobile connectivity. We’re doing more and more with technology but in most cases internet connectivity and speed are bottlenecks and some cases even show stoppers.
5G is a game changer and we’ll start seeing big changes when it is introduced.
When is it coming?
Most of the large telecoms providers in Australia will be ready to launch it by the end of the year, start of next year. It won’t mean that your existing smartphone will stop working as it will take time to roll-out the 5G network and 4G which we are all on currently will be available for years to come.
Will it solve poor signal problems and lack of coverage?
Unfortunately, not in all cases.
It will solve the signal and speed issues when you’re in a large crowd but coverage is a whole different ball-game and requires investment in masts and it needs to be worth the investment for the mobile coverage provider.
What we can see happening is the mobile operators will continue to improve their 4G coverage into areas that are more remote and they will concentrate their 5G investments around urban areas with densely populated areas.
Will I need a new phone?
Eventually you will. Most existing smartphones run on 4G networks. With the introduction of 5G networks, phones will need to upgraded, utilising new technology so that they can run effectively on 5G as well as 4G.
It doesn’t mean that you have to stop using your existing phone, it just means that until you get a compatible 5G phone, you won’t be able to use the 5G network.
What will it mean for fibre and fixed wire connections like the NBN?
Some comments have been made that 5G will replace wired connections but this is mostly coming from people with a vested internet in 5G and have made considerable investment in it.
My thoughts are, it won’t, telecoms companies have invested far too much in their fibre optic and cable networks to pull the plug on them. What we see is that 5G will be used as a complementary technology rather than a replacement technology. Consumer and office wired internet services will be primarily fixed line for many years to come,
However good wireless connectivity becomes, many prefer the stability and reliability of physical wires.
5G will be for when we're out and about, interacting with the world around us. It will also help facilitate the much talked about "internet of things".
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About the Author
Geoff Stewart is a highly experienced and skilled Technology Director at Surety IT. His knowledge is based on years of industry experience having created customised, stable, well performing systems both for multi-national companies in the UK and Australia and Surety IT customers.
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